Average American loves new cars, hates common sense

December 28th, 2011 1 comment

Americans love their cars. Buying a new car is an exiting event for most of us, and is often accompanied by copious amounts of internet research, multiple visits to dealer showrooms, and careful budget considerations to determine what we can comfortably afford. Oh wait — scratch that last one.

It turns out that most Americans are actually completely incapable of making sane decisions when it comes to money. The car-buying mentality in America appears to be a two-step process when it comes to finances: first, figure out the absolute maximum that you can afford to spend every month on a car payment. Then, find the best car that you can possibly buy, using that entire monthly budget. This is why car salespeople can commonly get away with simplifying a new car transaction down into the all-mighty monthly payment figure, glossing over minor details such as purchase price, fees, and loan terms. After all, those figures aren’t important if you can swing the monthly payment, right?

But what if new vehicle discussions didn’t revolve around whether or not your monthly budget could accommodate a $289 car payment? What if car salespeople put purchase prices into real-world terms that even the most math-challenged person could understand? What if a car salesperson asked you if you would be willing to hand over every single penny you earned for the next 14 months, in exchange for that car you’re eyeing? Because that is exactly what the typical American is doing.

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Categories: Financial Idiocy Tags: ,

TSA anti-terrorism measures more harmful than terrorism itself

December 25th, 2011 Comments off

The holiday season is in full swing, and that likely means travel for many of you. And travel often involves airports. And airports (at least here in the US) demand taking part in the TSA’s wonderful circus of security theater. In many airports, that means there is a good chance you’ll be asked to step through a full-body scanner.

You may have noticed that these same scanners were banned in Europe last month, due to health concerns over the ionizing radiation the machines employ. That might make you think twice about stepping into one, which is a perfectly valid response. However, this post isn’t really about the dangers of TSA backscatter scanners (there are already plenty of those), or whether or not you should opt out of a scan (ditto). I personally don’t believe that the health risk posed by the machines is serious enough that casual travelers need to realistically worry about those issues. Rather, I was more curious about the risk-reward relationship regarding them, and whether placing them in airports around the country made sense purely from a numbers standpoint.

Or, put more simply: is the potential benefit that we’re getting from these scanners in line with the health risk that they present (however small that risk may be)? I mean, surely somebody at the TSA thought about that, right? … Right?

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Clueless lawmakers propose idiotic legislation as knee-jerk response to homeless beating

December 23rd, 2011 Comments off

Last week, a homeless man by the name of David Ivins was senselessly assaulted by a couple of teenagers that punched, kicked, and threw rocks at him. The teens recorded themselves performing the beating, and then proceeded to upload the video to Youtube. Not surprisingly, public outrage in response to the video was immediate, and the teens were promptly arrested by the police.

A trio of New Jersey lawmakers were so disgusted by the beating that they announced the sponsorship of new legislation that will make recording an assault a crime that carries harsh penalties. Yes, these geniuses are seeking to criminalize the very act that captured the evidence which enabled police to swiftly arrest the victim’s assailants.

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Peter Schiff confronts clueless Occupy protester, hilarity ensues

December 20th, 2011 Comments off

I came across this short video of CEO Peter Schiff confronting a bunch of Occupy Wall Street protesters recently. Schiff, speaking for the 1%,  gets into a debate with a protester (and I use “debate” loosely, since I’m not sure what the protester is doing really qualifies), and the result is fairly entertaining.

I’ll let the video speak for itself:

(if the video isn’t showing up for you, click here to view it on YouTube)

Terrorism: it’s everywhere!

December 19th, 2011 Comments off
Click to enlarge

Some buildings + airplane = terrorism!

The image to the right has been making the rounds on Facebook over the past few days, accompanied by the following caption:

“FB family I need your help, so today while in Iraq shutting down one of the bases there ironically enough I stumbled upon this can of diet pepsi. Take a close look at the picture and tell me the first thought that comes to your mind. Mine and many other of my brother in arms was not a pleasant one so I just want to make sure we re not bias. If you see the same thing I did, I will never ever buy another Pepsi product again, this is an insult. Thank you for your feedback and participation.”

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Categories: General Idiocy Tags: , , ,

Layaway: enabling people of questionable intelligence to pay more for stuff they can’t afford to begin with

December 18th, 2011 Comments off

Layaway. Once a popular method of making purchases in the dark days before credit cards and the internet, this relic from the past has been making a return in recent years. While several large retailers have always quietly maintained a layaway purchase option, a handful have started to actively promote it (most notably Kmart and Sears). The clearest sign of a comeback is Walmart’s resurrection of its layaway program, just in time for the 2011 holiday season — and much to the delight of the masses clamoring for the return of a Walmart layaway option since 2006 (as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of signatures across several online petitions!). Layaway is, of course, idiotic.

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Categories: Financial Idiocy Tags: , ,